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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

West Bengal police prepare blueprint for anti-Maoist operations

IANS, Kolkata, 10 February : West Bengal police Wednesday held a meeting to prepare blueprint for anti-Maoist operations in three western districts of the state, an officer said.
“We have chalked out plans to carry out the Operation Green Hunt. We have prepared a blueprint for the anti-Maoist drive in all three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia,” West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma told IANS. State Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh attended the meeting. According to police sources, police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force would seal the state’s border with Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum and Orissa’s Mayurbhanj district while carrying out the operations.
“Both Jharkhand and Orissa borders would be sealed so that no Maoist escapes to neighbouring states,” a police source said. File Photo

West Bengal expects 35 percent growth in farm loan
Kolkata, 10 February : West Bengal expects to achieve a growth of 35% in loans to farm and small scale sectors in the current fiscal, state Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said here Wednesday.
"We recently met officials of commercial banks. They have assured us that a growth of 35 percent is achievable during the current financial year," Dasgupta told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar on state credit. According to estimates of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development released Wednesday, agriculture loan disbursal in West Bengal in 2009-10 is projected at Rs.9,005 crore, which is expected to grow 20% in 2010-11 to Rs.10,780 crore.

B'desh to expand infrastructure to boost trade with India's NE
Agartala, 10 February : Bangladesh will develop infrastructure along the border with northeast India to give a further impetus to bilateral trade, Bangladesh Industry Minister Dilip Barua said here.
'The new industrial policy of the Bangladesh government would be declared soon and it (the policy) would provide enormous scope to develop trade and business with India, especially the northeast region,' Bangladesh Industry Minister Dilip Barua said while addressing the Tripura industries and trade fair here. The present Bangladesh government wants more close regional and sub-regional economic relations with neighbouring countries.
'Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to New Delhi (last month) has already given a new momentum that Dhaka wanted to explore the markets in northeast India, Nepal and Bhutan. We want to increase the business manifold with these countries,' he said. Photo : Parthajit Dutta

China's anti-ship missile not a threat : Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma
PTI, New Delhi, 10 February : Dismissing China's anti-ship missile programme as a threat to Indian warships, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma today said it would be a difficult task to even spot the vessels in the vast expanse of high seas.
"Targeting ships at high seas is not an easy task or as simple as land warfare," Admiral Verma told reporters here on the sidelines of a seminar on aircraft carriers organised by the National Maritime Foundation here.

Pollution Board clamps down on WB, no clearances till Aug
Kolkata, 10 February : The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will not give environmental clearance to any new projects in West Bengal for eight months as the state needs to prepare a pollution mitigation strategy, following which the industries will have to create their pollution control mechanism.
CPCB chairman SP Gautam, on the sidelines of the North East and East Power Summit, organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, said that the board has launched a Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index, whose findings show that West Bengal’s three major industrial regions or clusters, namely Asansol, Haldia and Howrah, are critically polluting. “We have asked the state to prepare a pollution mitigation strategy, which has to be brought at an implementing stage within eight months from now,” Gautam said. “ Till then all environment clearances for projects will be kept on hold,” he added.
CPCB has surveyed 88 such industrial regions across the country, of which 43 have been found to be critically polluting with Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index above 70.

Genetically modified food bill tabled in B'desh parliament
Dhaka, 10 February : Bangladesh government Wednesday tabled a bill in parliament aimed at setting up an authority which will set standards for controversial genetically modified or GM foods in Bangladesh.
State minister for science Yeafesh Osman initiated the "National Institute of Biotechnology Bill-2010" amid absence of the main opposition BNP and its allies. The GM bill's proposed biotechnology institute will mainly be dedicated to environment-friendly and sustainable technologies innovations for social and economic development. "The institute will set standards and issue certificates for genetically modified foods and genetically modified organisms," sections nine (e) of the bill says.
Introduction of genetically modified foods is a very controversial issue in Bangladesh. Environmentalists have been opposing legalisation genetically modified foods in Bangladesh fearing environmental disasters.

Indian Railway to sign MoU with IIT-Kharagpur for research
Kolkata, 10 February : Indian Railways will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kharagpur to promote research and development in the organisation, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said here Wednesday.
'We are going sign a MoU with The IIT-Kharagpur 13 February to promote research and development activities for the railways,' Banerjee said after inaugurating a computerised reservation counter in southern part of Kolkata. 'We may float scholarships for IIT-Kharagpur students to carry out research activities,' she said.
Bangladesh to be middle-income state within 4 years
BSS, Barisal, 10 February : Bangladesh is likely to emerge as a country of middle-income group within the next four years thanks to its steady pace of growth and inclusive growth strategy taken by the present government.
The governor of the Bangladesh Bank, Atiur Rahman, said this in an exclusive interview with the news agency during his recent visit to different rural areas of the country’s southern part. The central bank governor said the country has achieved 5.9% national growth during the last fiscal year ending 30 June, 2009 compared to 6.2% of the previous fiscal when most economies of the world slid down substantially due to global economic downturn.
Haripur Nuclear Power Plant becomes bone of contention
Business Standard, Kolkata, 10 February : The people of Haripur, West Bengal, are angry. A nuclear power plant they don’t want is being thrust on them and their land is being taken away to locate it. The ruling Left Front has for long sought a nuclear power plant for the state. The locals sought the help of the Trinamool Congress to stymie the state government. But now the Congress is also in the picture. It is being asked hard questions and it doesn’t know what to do. Though not much is known about the proposed power plant, Haripur is expected to have six nuclear reactors each of 1650 MW- a total installed capacity of 10,000 MW of electricity. It is located in the coastal area of Contai, East Midnapur district, roughly 170 km away from Kolkata. Its 80,000 strong population is engaged mostly in farming and fishing. READ FULL STORY
Bangladesh to get $175 million WB credit to improve water
Kolkata, 10 February : The World Bank would provide around 175 million U.S. dollars credit in soft terms for implementation of a project to improve water, sewerage and storm water drainage services in Bangladesh's second largest city Chittagong.
According to a press release of the Washington-based multilateral bank Wednesday, the proposed Chittagong Water Supply Improvement and Sanitation Project (CWSISP) is expected to be approved by June this year. Following detailed discussions in December 2009, it said the Bangladeshi government is at present completing its review of the proposed project scope.
Centre asks KoPT to draw up Rs 995-cr scheme for Haldia
Kolkata, Haldia, 10 February : After delays in the tendering process marred the proposal to operationalise the Eden Channel, the Centre has now thrown a lifeline to the limping Haldia port, West Bengal's only facility capable of handling large ships, by proposing to undertake capital dredging of navigational channels that service the facility. The Kolkata Port Trust (KPT), which administers the Haldia port, has been asked to draw up a detailed proposal for the scheme that is likely to cost about Rs 995 crore, Union shipping minister GK Vasan said here on Tuesday. “Capital dredging is required for improvement of depth in the Haldia channel for which the Kolkata Port Trust has undertaken a comprehensive scheme. This scheme is called River Regulatory Measures (RRM), which comprises river training works and capital dredging. The proposal will be examined by the (shipping) ministry as soon as it is received from the port,” he said at an event organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce.
Vasan further said that all the due processes for the appointment of a full-time chairman for KPT had been completed and “an appointment can be expected to be made very shortly”. Photo : Raghunandan Mallick

India to plug gaps in security of Andaman-Nicobar islands
PTI, Port Blair, 10 February : In view of the Chinese presence in Myanmar's Coco Islands, just 40 km from the Andaman and Nicobar, and its increasing military activity in the Indian Ocean, India is planning to plug gaps in the islands' security with possible induction of Sukhois, more warships and radars. "There are gaps in surveillance, air defence and coastal security. We are working towards plugging the gaps," a senior officer in the tri-services Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) comprising the army, navy and air force units said here.
"The Chinese have a presence in Coco Islands, which is just 40 km of Landfall Islands in the northern most part of Andaman. Earlier it used to be large, but now they have scaled down the presence. But, yes, they are there," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

3 burned to death as Microbus catches fire in Chittagong
Chittagong, 10 February : Three people were burned to death as a CNG-run microbus caught fire after dashing a roadside tree in Pathanpur Bridge area of Satkania upazila in Chittagong Wednesday morning.
Nine passengers of the vehicle were also injured during the incident, reports our correspondent in Chittagong, quoting the local fire service. The identities of the deceased could not be known immediately. The injured were admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.

Centre in talks with WB on Rs 1,200 cr coastal zone project
Kolkata, 10 February : India govt was negotiating with World Bank a Rs 1,200 crore integrated coastal zone management project, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
"Rs 1,200 crore project over the next five years is a large sum of money. We are hoping to get World Bank approval by this June," he told Bengal Newz. Out of the Rs 1,200 crore, roughly Rs 200 crores would be spent in West Bengal in the Sunderban region, he said. Stating that the West Bengal Chief Minister had not raised any objection to World Bank assistance, he, however, said it would be a big issue in Kerala. "Comrades in West Bengal have been little more practical and pragmatic," he said in a lighter vein.
Besides West Bengal, Rs 300 crore will be spent on Gujarat coast, Rs 200 crore in Orissa and Rs 100 crore in Tamil Nadu.

Smuggling and trafficking main reasons for border killings
Dhaka, 10 February : Illegal activities such as smuggling of goods and trafficking in humans are the main reasons behind the border killings, former Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Veena Sikri said yesterday.
Border guards of both the countries should come together to see each incident to find out exactly what happened and why anyone was shot, she said, adding that there should be joint approach to address this issue. Veena Sikri, now chair of Ford Foundation and professor of Bangladesh studies at the Academy for Third World Studies in New Delhi, said this at a dialogue in response to criticism of the much-talked-about border killings by the Indian BSF. Emphasising that trade between the two neighbours must increase, she said, "I think India should remove all names of goods from the negative list. I want totally free trade."
The Department of International Relations of Dhaka University organised the dialogue titled 'Bangladesh-India Relations: Post-Hasina-Manmohan Summit' at the Senate Building of the university.
Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, former vice chancellor Prof Moniruzzaman Mian, cultural personality Aly Zaker, journalist Sadek Khan and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Rajeet Mitter also spoke. Photo Courtesy : STAR
Bangladesh Tele Shilpa Sangstha to make mobile, laptops
Dhaka, 10 February : Bangladesh has unveiled plans to manufacture cell phones and laptops with the help of foreign companies after witnessing a revolution in the usage of both mobiles and portable computers.
Six foreign companies have submitted 'expressions of interest' for forming a joint venture with the state-owned Bangladesh Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (Teshish) to manufacture mobile sets and laptops. The mobile phone would be as cheap at Taka 2,000 ($29) and the laptop would be for Taka 12,000 ($174). Teshish has been revived after 12 years.